Lebanon's quality of life implies an expectation that buildings will be free of hazards and safe to conduct business, work, or live. In home and office, the existence or recognition of hazards by the owner/occupant is based on his or her perception, education, and familiarity of the building, codes and hazard identification. Firefighters, versed in both code and hazard issues, provide a more consistent, objective and measurable tool for hazard assessment of buildings. The inspections normally performed by the department fall into 2 categories: In-Service and Code Enforcement Inspections.

In-Service Inspections

The In-Service Inspection of a structure consists of 2 components, a hazard inspection, and a Pre-Plan.

Hazard Inspection

Trained to identify potential fire and code problems, firefighters (on-duty) look for and many times find such hazards as clutter, extension cords being misused, electrical fixtures without covers, blocked exits, failed exit/emergency lights and the like. In-service inspections reduce the potential for fire by identifying and causing the rectification of most common fire hazards. It also affords the shift an opportunity to re-familiarize themselves with the facility, its inherent hazards and those who occupy it.

We inspect once every 3 years the Commercial and Industrial properties in the community. The shifts will contact the occupant or owner of the property and make arrangements to conduct the inspection. We will inspect single family homes when requested by the owner.

Pre-Plan Development or Update

As part of the inspection, a Pre-Plan is made or updated, as need dictates. A Pre-Plan is an action oriented, 2-part plan of a structure. One part provides owner information, contact phone numbers and pertinent details of the structure such as age, type construction, etc. The other part is a drawing which locates key building components and services such as general layout, utility shutoffs, inherent hazards, alarm and suppression systems and any other information that may be important in the event of an emergency. Pre-Plan books are maintained in apparatus for reference purposes in the event of an incident.

Environmental Inspections

We conduct underground tank inspections when storage tanks are put in or taken out. This is to ensure that when the tank is being installed it meets the code requirements to protect the environment and prevent the possibility of fires caused by leaks. We inspect tank removals to be sure that there is no contamination of the ground. We also assist other organizations in environmental assessments of properties.

Code Enforcement Inspection

Code enforcement is the responsibility of the Deputy Chief, Prevention, and Education. The codes consist of both State and City adopted Codes. Codes are a legal, objective and standardized tool to help make property reasonably safe for the public. The existence of most code is predicated by past fire catastrophes.

Example - Emergency Exit Doors Open Outward

As an example, the Life Safety Code originated from the Coconut Grove fire in Boston during the 1940s. This night club had inward swinging doors. When a fire forced the evacuation of the building, a large number of occupants perished trying to push their way out. One of the Life Safety Codes requires emergency exit doors to open outward by pushing on them.

Types of Inspection / General Process

The Code Inspection of a property is normally conducted by the Deputy at the request of the owner or upon receipt of a complaint or ongoing construction. Other types of Code inspections are Occupancy inspections, permit inspections such as day care facilities, etc. The actual process is a full evaluation of the building for compliance with applicable State and City Codes. It is both time-consuming and exacting due to the legalities involved.

After the Inspection

The Deputy prepares a violation report for the owner identifying any problems (deficiencies) found that must be fixed. The report will ask the owner to establish a time frame within which the deficiencies must be corrected.

If correction of the deficiencies, or the timeline, present undue hardship to the owner, a meeting is held and a mutually agreeable plan is formulated to address the deficiencies. This meeting also provides an opportunity to discuss any equivalencies that might provide the owner with some options in correcting the deficiencies. (An example of this is that in some instances it is more economical to install a sprinkler system than making major renovations to a structure.)

The Deputy will follow up and confirm that the deficiencies are corrected in accordance with the plan established and in accordance with the applicable codes.

In cases where the owner refuses to cooperate, a second and third inspections are completed and documented with notices sent to the owner. In rare cases, a citation to appear in court is prepared and the legal process to ensure compliance is achieved.